Brady predicts increasing diversity
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has predicted a future of growing diversity following talks with senior Government ministers.
Cardinal Sean Brady met politicians including Taoiseach Enda Kenny - just hours after appointing a successor to his post and signalling an end to his 48 years in the Church.
Abortion and the protection of human life were high on the agenda at the meeting, which also included a delegation of religious representatives and members of Cabinet.
"Whilst it is in its seminal stage, the operation of this dialogue structure bodes well for the future of Ireland and reflects the maturing character of a truly pluralist state," Cardinal Brady said.
He said it was important for Irish society that the Catholic Church could engage with Government in a transparent and respectful way to deal with matters of mutual concern. "It is equally important that such a forum exist so that particular matters of concern for either party can also be discussed in detail and in person," he added.
During the three-hour meeting there was particular focus given to the problem of suicide. Both parties agreed on future talks on the subject and considered commissioning research, and increasing support for clergy, community leaders and other professionals.
Other issues discussed included recent trouble in Northern Ireland linked with protests over the Union flag. The group also considered the future of education - primary, secondary and third level.
Earlier, it emerged that Cardinal Brady is likely to retire by 2015. The 73-year-old announced the appointment of a coadjutor archbishop outside St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh.
Monsignor Eamon Martin, administrator of the Diocese of Derry and a former teacher, was named his successor and appointed assistant in the Archdiocese of Armagh during the transition.
One of his first roles will be to lobby for the church's anti-abortion stance as the Irish Government legislates to allow terminations on strict medical grounds.